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"A microcosm, where different moments of existence co-exist"

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Andrea Caccia • Director

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- Italian director Andrea Caccia talks to us about his new project, Gold Is All There is, winner of the Eurimages Lab Project Award at Les Arcs European Film Festival

Andrea Caccia • Director
(© Gaia Giani)

Immersed in nature, sitting somewhere between documentary and fiction and with no dialogue, the new film by Andrea Caccia, and the director's third feature film after Vedozero and La vita al tempo della morte, was shot entirely next to the river Ticino. The project, which was notoriously difficult to catalogue and was produced by the Italian outfit Dugong, along with the French company Picofilms and the Swiss company Rough Cat, won the Eurimages Lab Project Award at the 9th Work-in-Progress at Les Arcs European Film Festival.

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Cineuropa: Did you expect to win this award?
Andrea Caccia: Honestly, no, seeing as the other projects were more classically fiction or auteur films, and certainly more easily contextualised than ours. It’s a prize that we’re delighted to receive and which is ultimately very important at this stage. We’re about to enter the final stretch of editing, after months of preparation, so the financing that comes with the award will allow us to conclude the film exactly as we wish. Filming took place in 2016, for six months non-stop. I then spent eight months in 2017 cleaning the footage (170 hours in total), along with aliasing, and completing the first draft. We're therefore able to face the next decisive phase in the process, which is due to begin in January, more calmly and enthusiastically.

It's a tricky project, with no dialogue: a courageous challenge. How did the idea come about?
I was born on the Piedmontese side of the river Ticino, then a decade ago I moved over to the Lombardy side. I used to go to the river with my father, and now I go with my son. It’s almost as though I’ve passed over to the other side, from an existential point of view. It was during walks with my son that the initial idea for ​​the film came about. I wanted to let people know just how much that environment is a microcosm, where different moments of existence co-exist. My cinema is the result of observation, but I have never followed a typical documentary style. I thought about how to relay the film's existential dimension within a constantly changing space, such as a forest or river, which I personally associate with Ticino, but which could also easily be found in France, the United States or Asia.

How did you structure the story?
During the writing phase I decided to insert a video observation about the reality of people who had characteristics that were useful to the story: a 14-year-old boy (my son), in the age of discovery, or even danger, a 30-year-old hunter who questions what it is about himself that continues to spur him on to shoot animals, a 48-year-old man and naturist since the first Italian naturist beaches cropped up right alongside the river Ticino, a police officer on the cusp of retirement, who returns to the places linked to past investigations, looking for something, and finally an older man, who occasionally goes to the river to look for gold, just like his grandparents, his parents and himself, up to a certain point in his life. They are five different ages with five different ways of looking at life and experiencing the river. Starting from the observation of nature and animals, we see these five characters moving around this space as they usually do. The film has no dialogue because no one ever crosses paths with anyone else. The only element designed to lead the audience to follow the characters is a scene shot at the source of Ticino at the beginning of the film, with a group of children playing hide and seek. A child disappears, and from there we start to provoke a strong preliminary question in the audience: where did the child end up? Did he become one of the characters?

Your project is qualified as a "hybrid" in the Les Arcs catalogue.
The artistic director of the festival called it a metaphysical thriller. I catalogue it as a non-fiction film: we start from the observation of reality in order to build a story. Being "hybrid" is perhaps the interesting element to the project, it poses a question to those who watch it, it doesn't allow itself to be pigeonholed immediately. Those who saw the initial eight edited minutes told me the images were evocative and magnetic. There is no dialogue, there will not be any music, instead we have a large sound design project waiting for us, and ultimately the prize money will help us out a lot. In addition to the co-production with France and Switzerland (where we will work on sound), we have a Swedish company (Shoot&Post) that will be dealing with colour correction.

When will the film be ready, and where do you plan to present it?
It will be ready for summer 2018, in time for Locarno, Venice and Toronto. We hope it continues to go well, as it has up until this point, and that we find space, a seller, and a distributor. The film is made for the big screen and has an obvious pictorial setting. There are long fixed shots, time flows, nothing seems to happen, then maybe behind a tree at the bottom of the screen something will move. My main source of inspiration is American transcendentalism, the Hudson River School. The idea was to offer a viewing experience. It takes a great deal of tenacity to make a film like this.

(Translated from Italian)

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